I am watching the World Baseball Classic tonight. Tonight's game is between Venezuela and Korea, and right now it looks like it will be a victory for the Koreans. As someone who lived in Korea, and is a big fan of the Korean Baseball Organization, I have to say I am really enjoying the game. Well, almost. See, I am very close to turning down the sound, as the announcers sadly are proving some of the reasons a global competition like this should be held.
So far I have heard them discuss how hard it is for American baseball players, and why many of them did not want to give up more of their off-season to participate in the games. They actually bemoaned how hard it is for the players to have to spend six months on the road, often missing family and home. Boo-hoo. First off the minimum salary for a major league player in America is around $380,000 a year. Not bad for a six month gig. And sure you have to spend a lot of time on the road, but it does not take a rocket scientist to be aware of that way before you sign your contract. Every job has things about it that stinks, and if you do not like it, you are not required to take that job.
The announcers have also bemoaned how the numbers of American born baseball players in the United States is declining. They said they could not figure out why, yet in the rest of the world more and more great players are emerging. Here are a few potential reasons off the top of my head. American youth are more focused on their video games and television sets these days. Many parents wont let their precious snowflakes play in unsupervised areas like they used to, thus pick up games of baseball do not happen as often. Could it even be that we have seen many of our heroes fall from grace, and don't want to follow their lead (or don't have connections to steroids like they did)? Or perhaps as today's youth have watched ESPN they have seen the real money is at the poker tables, plus you don't have to work out as much to be a professional player in that sport.
And as for the announcer's complaints that we might be an underdog in our own sport, perhaps we should be glad we have exported at least something other countries can enjoy. I have spent many afternoons sitting in the outfield stand in a ball park in Korea. (Hanwha Eagles Fighting!) I can honestly say the fans there get into the game far more than most who attend games in the States. It is a completely different atmosphere in the stands, one that personally miss.
I am really enjoying see teams made up of non-MLBers compete and even out perform against guys who get paid millions. Seeing the Netherlands do as well as they did was a great thing. And now, the Koreans are about to finish off the Venezuelans. Makes you wonder if the big bucks are worth it?
Besides the announcers, my only other complaint about the World Baseball Classic is the way the brackets work. Korea and Japan have already faced each other four times, and could have a fifth before the series is over. They should mix the teams up a little more. How about splitting up the two teams that advance from the first round to different pools? It would give even more chances for teams to face each other, and limit the number of times two teams would face off.
Oh, and now that this is going to be a routine event, can we change the name of this to the World Series, and the other championship to the MLB Championship? Makes sense to me.